Researchers have been closely monitoring BA.2.86, a highly mutated form of the virus that causes COVID-19, which has now infected people in at least 10 different states.
Labs have reported discovering BA.2.86 in samples from Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, according to data compiled from the global virus database GISAID.
According to estimates, only a small percentage of newly reported COVID-19 cases nationwide are BA.2.86.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s fortnightly variant estimates, which only include a small number of the virus’ reported sequences, yet indicate that a large group of closely related XBB variant offspring are responsible for the majority of infections across the nation.
Health authorities do believe BA.2.86 is still spreading rapidly over the world, even though scientists first raised concerns about the strain’s several alterations in August.
Several nations, including Canadian provinces, have reported discovering the variation in wastewater samples or testing from affected individuals. The CDC’s airport testing program has also detected indications of the stress in incoming foreign visitors.
Although it is still too soon to determine how contagious the variant might be compared to other strains emerging, authorities claim BA.2.86 has so far demonstrated its capacity to drive outbreaks.
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Early research results on the variety have been deemed reassuring by the CDC, showing they may not be as capable of subverting the body’s immunological defenses as first thought.
The new COVID-19 vaccines that are now being distributed by vaccine manufacturers, according to their statistics, should also protect against BA.2.86.
The majority of BA.2.86 research to date has relied on pseudoviruses, which are different viruses that have been produced in a lab to imitate the unique mutations of BA.2.86.
Better results will require the use of viruses produced from real patient samples, a process that is currently underway.
Source: CBS News